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YOUR PAL FRED

A winning exhortation, earnest in its underpinnings at least, to be the change.

A toy robot from the past wages peace in a dystopian future.

If ever an AI “programmed to spread kindness, friendship, and good vibes” faced a tough challenge it would be the Zones—a barren, Mad Max–style landscape dotted with rocks and ruins, where feuding overlords Lord Bonkers and Papa Mayhem are gearing up for war while scattered “dirt-folk” struggle for survival. But Fred turns out to be tougher than his generic child’s body and blandly cheery expression would suggest. In fact, from the moment he crawls out of the rubble of a former toy store, he begins working changes on everyone he encounters: “Wow! I really like your helmet! It’s super neat!” Teaching others how to do high-fives and rolling out upbeat stickers from a fingertip dispenser as he goes, Fred weathers scorn, slime, and worse to make friends, reunite long-separated siblings, and show even fierce rivals a way to peace and forgiveness (“Sorry I bonked you.” “Eh, it happens”) before, in the cartoon-style illustrations, literally striding off into the sunset in search of others who need to hear his message. For readers who do get it, Rex closes with a savvy six-step plan for making new friends. Beneath his dorky eyeglasses and tuft of blue hair, Fred’s moon face is light skinned; the heavily armored supporting cast sports a variety of hues from light brown to bluish gray.

A winning exhortation, earnest in its underpinnings at least, to be the change. (Graphic science fiction. 7-10)

Pub Date: May 31, 2022

ISBN: 978-0-593-20632-4

Page Count: 272

Publisher: Viking

Review Posted Online: March 1, 2022

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2022

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CAPTAIN UNDERPANTS AND THE TYRANNICAL RETALIATION OF THE TURBO TOILET 2000

From the Captain Underpants series , Vol. 11

Dizzyingly silly.

The famous superhero returns to fight another villain with all the trademark wit and humor the series is known for.

Despite the title, Captain Underpants is bizarrely absent from most of this adventure. His school-age companions, George and Harold, maintain most of the spotlight. The creative chums fool around with time travel and several wacky inventions before coming upon the evil Turbo Toilet 2000, making its return for vengeance after sitting out a few of the previous books. When the good Captain shows up to save the day, he brings with him dynamic action and wordplay that meet the series’ standards. The Captain Underpants saga maintains its charm even into this, the 11th volume. The epic is filled to the brim with sight gags, toilet humor, flip-o-ramas and anarchic glee. Holding all this nonsense together is the author’s good-natured sense of harmless fun. The humor is never gross or over-the-top, just loud and innocuous. Adults may roll their eyes here and there, but youngsters will eat this up just as quickly as they devoured every other Underpants episode.

Dizzyingly silly. (Humor. 8-10)

Pub Date: Aug. 26, 2014

ISBN: 978-0-545-50490-4

Page Count: 224

Publisher: Scholastic

Review Posted Online: June 3, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 2014

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A WHALE OF THE WILD

A dramatic, educational, authentic whale of a tale.

After a tsunami devastates their habitat in the Salish Sea, a young orca and her brother embark on a remarkable adventure.

Vega’s matriarchal family expects her to become a hunter and wayfinder, with her younger brother, Deneb, protecting and supporting her. Invited to guide her family to their Gathering Place to hunt salmon, Vega’s underwater miscalculations endanger them all, and an embarrassed Vega questions whether she should be a wayfinder. When the baby sister she hoped would become her life companion is stillborn, a distraught Vega carries the baby away to a special resting place, shocking her grieving family. Dispatched to find his missing sister, Deneb locates Vega in the midst of a terrible tsunami. To escape the waters polluted by shattered boats, Vega leads Deneb into unfamiliar open sea. Alone and hungry, the young siblings encounter a spectacular giant whale and travel briefly with shark-hunting orcas. Trusting her instincts and gaining emotional strength from contemplating the vastness of the sky, Vega knows she must lead her brother home and help save her surviving family. In alternating first-person voices, Vega and Deneb tell their harrowing story, engaging young readers while educating them about the marine ecosystem. Realistic black-and-white illustrations enhance the maritime setting.

A dramatic, educational, authentic whale of a tale. (maps, wildlife facts, tribes of the Salish Sea watershed, environmental and geographical information, how to help orcas, author’s note, artist’s note, resources) (Animal fiction. 8-10)

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-06-299592-6

Page Count: 240

Publisher: Greenwillow Books

Review Posted Online: June 30, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2020

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